Panasonic’s new HDC-TM700, full HD, 1080p camcorder takes aim at the semi-pro/enthusiast market and strikes a bull’s eye with some very nice features.
Plethora of Positives
Like many men I tend to shun any sort of manual or user’s guide that comes with a new piece of equipment. I’ve got my new toy and now I just want to dive in and see what it can do. One of my first and favorite tests when reviewing a new camera, therefore, is the “How easily can I figure it out without having to refer to the manual?” test.
In the case of the TM700 I was pleased to find that it passes this test very admirably. A menu button resides along the bottom of the LCD display. Pressing this button brings up the touch sensitive on-screen menu and touching each menu item displays additional options. Simple to navigate, this is easily the most intuitive, user-friendly menu system I have encountered to date.
Pressing the iA/Manual button switches the camera from Intelligent Auto to manual mode. You can then select the Focus, White Balance, Shutter, or Iris functions on the touch screen display. Once selected, the function can be adjusted by turning the multi manual ring at the front of the camera. When manually focusing, a very welcome feature for those of us with aging eyesight is the focus assist. Crisp focus is achieved by turning the focus ring until the desired areas are displayed in blue.
Pressing the Camera Function button located on the left side of the camera body just behind the multi manual ring also enables access to the manual settings. Pressing the button again cycles through the four functions and turning the ring makes the desired adjustments. This makes for a very fast, efficient method of adjusting these settings as needed.
One feature we like to see in a camera is a microphone jack so an external mic may be used. The TM700 rises to the occasion here as well. Lift a port cover on the front bottom right of the camera and you’ll find both an external microphone jack and a headphone jack.
Above and slightly behind these is another port cover hiding a rather interesting feature – an accessory shoe jack. Snap the included adapter into place and you have added an unpowered accessory shoe, offset to the right of the lens, perfect for mounting your external microphone or on-camera light. Removing the shoe adapter is as easy as sliding the release button to the left and pulling the adapter straight up and away from the camera.
The TM700’s 3 1/4.1″ CMOS sensors deliver both high resolution still photos (14.2 megapixels) and full HD video at up to 1920 X 1080/60p. Four different recording modes may be selected through the Record Setup menu: HE (5Mbps), HX (9Mbps), HG (13Mbps) and HA (17Mbps). The 1080/60p recording mode (28Mbps) is activated by pressing and holding a dedicated button located behind the LCD display on the camera’s body.
Recording in the AVCHD format at 1080/60p requires a great deal of storage and the TM700 meets this need quite well via 32GB of internal memory and a SD, SDHC and SDXC compatible memory-card slot that can provide up to 64GB of additional storage.
Barely Worth Mentioning
The one area of concern I have with this camera, like many others on the market today, is the flimsy feel of the port cover supports. The material used seems very thin, and while quite flexible, may be prone to eventual breakage from regular use.
Aside from this minor detail and the fact that I would have liked to have seen an HDMI cable included I have been very pleased with my exploration of the TM700. Anyone looking for a semi-pro class camcorder will surely find plenty to be happy with here as well.
Media: 32GB built-in memory; SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card
Recording Format: AVCHD
Image Sensor: 1/4.1″ MOS X 3
Total Pixels: 9.15 megapixels (3.05 megapixels X 3)
Resolution: Full HD 1920 X 1080/60p
LCD Monitor: 3.0′ wide LCD
Microphone: 5.1ch Surround, Zoom and Focus Microphone
Jacks: HDMI, USB, Microphone (stereo mini), Headphone (stereo mini)
Accessory Shoe: with adapter (cold)
Lens Type: Leica Dicomar Lens
Zoom: Optical 12X; Intelligent 18X; Digital 30X and 700X
Image Stabilizer: Power O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization)
White Balance: Auto/Indoor1/Indoor2/Sunny/Cloudy/White Set
Time-lapse Recording:from one frame per second to one frame every two minutes
- 1080/60p recording
- 32GB internal memory + SD, SDHC, SDXC card slot
- External microphone jack
- Accessory shoe adapter
- Focus assist
- Port cover supports seem weak and may be susceptible to breaking
- No HDMI cable
The Panasonic HDC-TM700 is a welcome addition to the latest line of camcorders and one you’ll definitely want to check out.
Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.
One Panasonic Way
Secaucus, NJ 07094